September 28, 2015

US report calls for unions to reach out to Latino workers

Unions in the US urgently need new Latino members, while Latino workers could benefit from increased union membership, according to a new report.

The report from the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) argues that Latino workers face a number of issues in the workplace including the highest fatality rate, the lowest level of pension coverage and health insurance, and the lowest wages.
Meanwhile, union membership is at a historical low in the US, particularly among younger people. According to figures from the Department of Labor, less than 10% of workers belonged to a union in 2014, compared to over twice that 30 years ago. Among 16- to 24-year-olds, the figure is just over 4%.
The LCLAA report recommends that: “There must be targeted bilingual organizing campaigns to ensure Latinos understand their rights to organize. More importantly, the labor movement will need to embrace this new workforce by creating pathways to leadership in the worksite and in the union.”
According to the report, there are currently 26 million Latino people in the US workforce, of whom almost a quarter are in low-wage jobs.
John Addison has written for IZA World of Labor about the implications of trade unions’ decline in power in recent decades. He writes that: “Although the evidence on union effects is mixed, it can be argued that union decline may give little immediate cause for concern. Even so, two indicators typically associated with union decline—heightened earnings inequality and a potential shortfall in employee voice—occasion more concern.”
In another article, Alex Bryson writes for us about the economic implications of union wage bargaining, arguing that: “Without unions bargaining successfully to raise worker wages, income inequality would almost certainly be higher than it is.”
Read more on this story at the Wall Street Journal. The LCLAA report can be found here.
Related articles:
The consequences of trade union power erosion by John T. Addison
Union wage effects by Alex Bryson